ESPcat (Electric Solar Powered Catamaran)
I am building a prototype, solar powered, floating classroom called the ESPcat (Electric Solar Powered Catamaran. I plan to change the world by replacing the fuel guzzling, noisy, polluting, power boats by demonstrating the advantages of solar powered boats. In addition, ESPcat will act as a floating classroom where students can learn all about he fabulous Hauraki Gulf's marine environment.
What conservation problem are you trying to solve?
Too many people don't appreciate the marine environment of the Hauraki Gulf. People see the water's surface and that is all. We need to protect the Hauraki Gulf and the creatures in it by teaching solar powered sustainability and marine ecology. We want to encourage the next generation to become experts on our marine environment by studying water quality and all aspects of marine ecology. We want them to look beneath the surface and study what can be done to help the Hauraki Gulf.
How are you going to solve this conservation problem?
Our floating laboratory will be like no other. Students will connect the ESPcat's electronic systems with their smart phones and tablets via a WiFi network. In addition to monitoring ESPcat's solar panels, batteries and electric motors, the smart devices will connect to marine charts, depth sounders, underwater cameras, water quality instrumentation, wind speed and direction.
What makes your idea new and unique?
ESPcat will be New Zealand's first, practical solar powered coastal cruiser. Boat designers and boat builders will be able to see that solar powered boats can replace the fuel guzzling, wave creating, environment destroying conventional power boats. We plan to make our solar electric propulsion system design available to everyone. We will change only enough to keep the project going.
Who will use your idea, and how will they benefit?
ESPcat will be available to as wide a range of people as possible. We have two areas of focus. First, our prototype will demonstrate that it is indeed practical to build a solar powered coastal cruiser. Boat builders and boat designers will be invited on board to learn how they can apply solar-electric propulsion technology as a replacement for fossell fuel burning engines. Secondly, our floating laboratory will be made available to educational groups giving them a pollution free platform.
What tasks or activities do you need investment for? How would you spend a $25,000 grant?
So far, my wife Gallagher and I have funded the entire prototype ourselves. We are just about at the end of our self imposed, $36,000 budget and will use the $25,000 to purchase the remaining components for ESPcat. All our labor is free as is the labor of the volunteers involved in our project. Follow progress at https://espcatblog.wordpress.com/
Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?
List five other ideas posted in the challenge that excite you. Why?
1 - Describe more clearly the conservation outcomes and how this project will benefit. First goal - demonstrate the viability of solar powered boats. Second goal - create an education platform to teach conservation.
2 - Will the craft allow a silent approach for monitoring wildlife above the water? Yes, we hope to have almost zero environmental noise impact.
3 - Getting our youth to investigate some of the environmental problems. We will create a set of downloadable student research projects.
4 - interested to know more about the sustainability of your project
We are developing a 25 year plan with 5 solar powered boats.
5 – What about protecting intellectual property?
We will commercialize our IP to create a NZ solar powered boat industry.
How could you improve your idea?
There are many ways the ESPcat project can be improved. The one that excites me at the moment is the idea of installing equipment to record and analyse underwater noise pollution. We want it WiFi enabled of course. I see multiple PHD projects here. We could definitly raise awairness of underwater noise pollution in the Gulf.